This week historical author Lynn Johnson is interviewing her character, Connie Copeland from Wartime with the Tram Girls. Let’s find out a bit about the book first.
July 1914: Britain is in turmoil as WW1 begins to change the world. While the young men disappear off to foreign battlefields, the women left at home throw themselves into jobs meant for the boys.
Hiding her privileged background and her suffragette past, Constance Copeland signs up as a Clippie – collecting money and giving out tickets – on the trams, despite her parents’ disapproval.
Constance, now known as Connie, soon finds there is more to life than the wealth she was born into and she makes fast friends with lively fellow Clippies, Betty and Jean, as well as growing closer to the charming, gentle Inspector Robert Caldwell.
But Connie is haunted by another secret; if it comes out, it could destroy her life.
After war ends and the men return to take back their roles, will Connie return to her old life? Or has she been changed forever by seeing a new life through the tram windows?
Here’s some nice Reviews
’I thoroughly enjoyed every single second of the story and I would definitely recommend this book to other readers.” (Reviewer: gingerbookgeek 5*)
‘Absolutely loved this book from start to finish, I couldn’t put it down.’ (Reader Review 5*)
‘Wartime with the Tram Girls by Lynn Johnson is a wonderful WWI-era historical fiction novel that I truly, truly enjoyed.” (Reviewer: Rachel 5*)
I loved all of the characters – it wasn’t a book where there was one character you’re supposed to detest. And I thought it was fantastically written; I thought it had real intrigue and it kept me reading until it was over.’ (Reviewer: The Very bookish 5*)‘
Now let’s move onto the interview:
It’s good to see you, Connie. Can you begin by telling us why you became a suffragette.
It was Mother who started it. You see, we lived in a large house in Manchester before we move to The Potteries. Mrs Pankhurst, who ran the Women’s Social and Political Union was a neighbour of ours. Mother was one of the Committee members and I went along to help out. When we left Manchester and the suffragettes became militant, Mother resigned. After poor Emily Davison was killed at the Epsom Derby, I felt I compelled to join the WSPU, to play my part.
So you agreed with their militant tactics?
Put it like this, I saw a couple of things that I couldn’t ignore. When that happens, you must go where your conscience leads. It caused me an awful lot of embarrassment – and heartache too. It haunted me for years, but I would probably do it all over again if I had to. It’s so important for women to speak for themselves on matters affecting them, don’t you think?
I believe your Father found you a bit of a handful and was anxious to see you well married. How did that make you feel?
Oh, yes. He made me quite angry at times. He thought that if I got into trouble no one would marry me. I had a right to stand up for myself, don’t you agree? There were a few… delicate matters which, he believed, were not suitable for women to talk about and it was a man’s job to support his family. He was very pleased with where he had got to and didn’t want to lose his position in society. If I married a gentleman with money, it would solve two matters at one time. Money and me.
You fell for Matthew very quickly – was that wise?
I was in love. It was marvellous. It was a time when everything moved so fast – because of the terrible war. You met a young man without knowing if you would ever see him again. It was awful. Some women were so frightened of becoming spinsters they were prepared to take any man for their husband. All that I can say, is that I followed my heart.
You had a lot of fun with the Tram Girls, Jean and Betty. Were you upset when it ended?
Yes, I was. But I knew when I started that my clippie job would end when the war ended. The bosses were quite straight with us about that. Returning soldiers needed employment. You can hardly send them away to fight a war and then make them unemployed when they return, now can you? Jean and Betty were great. They were younger than me and working class, but I didn’t let that get in the way of friendship. In fact, I rather prefer them than my own class.
Young Ginnie was your best friend, but the two of you were so very different, weren’t you?
She most certainly was, and always will be. She was in the workhouse. That’s how we originally met. I met her again a few years later and that’s when we became friends. She was so good and kind and had been through some terrible times, but she was strong and loyal and I appreciate a friend that’s true.
A number of the men you meet are flawed in some way – why do you think that is?
Of course, the war affected everyone. Husbands, sweethearts, brothers, and friends. Of those who did return, some came back with injuries you could see and others you couldn’t, and it all impacted on their relationships with the women who were waiting for them. It’s so easy to make assumptions, and so hard to put them right. At the time you believe you are doing the right thing. But afterwards…
Connie’s family is having money problems, just like everyone else. Does she have any plans in her mind?
As you say, we all had our problems. We thought those would be sorted out when the war ended but, like everything else, things didn’t go back to normal just because the war was over. There was much to do. It took time. Life as a tram girl taught me an awful lot about people and the varying degrees of poverty. I hope I benefitted from it. I certainly won’t return to being a lady of leisure, you can be sure of that.
It sounds a fascinating story, doesn’t it? If you fancy reading the book you can get a copy here:
Kobo : http://bit.ly/3tlMQQX
Lynn Johnson was born and raised in Stoke-on-Trent. She went to school in Burslem, the setting for her first novel and left with no qualifications. Like Ginnie she had ambitions and, in her own time, obtained a BA Hons and a Diploma in Management Studies. She began to research her family tree and it inspired her to write short stories, one of which became the basis for her first novel, The Girl from the Workhouse. Wartime with the Tram Girls is the second novel in her Potteries Girls series set during the Great War.
Although Lynn still has a close affinity to The Potteries, she now lives in Orkney with her husband and six beautiful cats.
Social Media – Links
Facebook: Lynn Johnson Author
Thanks so much for dropping by to talk to us. I hope your book flies!
Karen King – Writing about the light and dark of relationships.
Amazon Author Page: https://tinyurl.com/y2q5audb